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Sanford: Trump threatened to back a primary challenger

Sanford: Trump threatened to back a primary challenger
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Rep. Mark Sanford (R-S.C.) claims President Trump threatened to back a primary challenge against him during the contentious negotiations over the Republican ObamaCare repeal and replace bill last week.

Sanford, a member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, told The Post and Courier on Thursday that the threat was delivered through White House budget chief Mick Mulvaney.

"'The president asked me to look you square in the eyes and to say that he hoped that you voted ‘no’ on this bill so he could run [a primary challenger] against you in 2018,'" the lawmaker quoted Mulvaney as saying, according to the newspaper.

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Sanford added that Mulvaney, a friend and a former member of the South Carolina delegation, did not want to deliver the message but did so at Trump's insistence.

"I’ve never had anyone, over my time in politics, put it to me as directly as that," Sanford said.

House GOP leaders canceled a vote on their ObamaCare bill last Friday amid opposition from Freedom Caucus members, including Sanford, and centrist Republicans. Conservative lawmakers said it left too much of ObamaCare in place.

Trump on Thursday took to Twitter to blast the Freedom Caucus for opposing the bill, claiming that the group had “hurt the entire Republican agenda,” and pledging to “fight” them in the 2018 midterms.

"The Freedom Caucus will hurt the entire Republican agenda if they don't get on the team, & fast. We must fight them, & Dems, in 2018!" Trump tweeted.

Freedom Caucus members hit back at the president.

“It didn’t take long for the swamp to drain President Trump,” tweeted Rep. Justin AmashJustin AmashIncoming GOP lawmaker shares video of hotel room workout, citing 'Democrat tyrannical control' Rundown of the House seats Democrats, GOP flipped on Election Day Romney congratulates Biden after victory MORE (R-Mich.).